Axios Tampa Bay
January 18, 2022
Welcome back. It's Tuesday!
🌞 Mostly sunny, with some light winds. 64/42.
- Sounds like: "Good News," by Mac Miller.
Today's newsletter is 876 words, a 3.5-minute read.
1 big thing: A deadly county for cyclists and walkers
The Tampa Bay area is notoriously unsafe for pedestrians and bicyclists, but 2021 was particularly brutal in Pinellas County.
What's happening: Bicycle and pedestrian fatalities in Pinellas nearly doubled last year, even though rates didn't change much in other Tampa Bay counties, statewide or nationally, the Tampa Bay Times reports.
- In 2021, 85 cyclists and pedestrians died in Pinellas — a 15-year record, up from 49 in 2020 and from an annual average of 51 deaths over the last five years.
Behind the numbers: Whit Blanton, executive director of Pinellas' land use and transportation planning agency, Forward Pinellas, told the Times long stretches of roadway between crosswalks, poor lighting and, in low-income areas, higher numbers of pedestrians and bicyclists were all factors in the high accident rate.
- This year's spike could also be attributed to changes in peak driving times due to the pandemic.
Possible solutions: A Florida Department of Transportation lighting program could help those riding in the dark, but the fixes aren't expected until 2023.
- When the county death rate hit 25, St. Petersburg police sent as many as 15 officers at once to areas prone to speeding and crashes.
What they're saying: Adding pedestrian and cyclist-friendly elements to roads could help, Blanton told the Times, but getting those measures approved isn't easy when they also slow down traffic.
- "(Drivers) get pretty angry at you if you want to take away a lane," Blanton told the Times.
2. Up next for the Bucs
With running backs Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones both hurt, backups Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Giovani Bernard combined for 145 total yards as the Bucs trounced the Eagles 35-15 on Sunday.
- And the defense finally looked healthy again in the wild card win.
🏈 What's next: The Bucs host the Rams at 3pm Sunday.
📓 Divisional round scouting report: The Rams beat the Bucs 34-24 in Week 3 behind a four-touchdown game from quarterback Matthew Stafford. But while they won a strong NFC West and walloped the Cardinals last night, Los Angeles was embarrassed by the Titans, 49ers and Packers during the regular season.
3. Manatees aren't eating the lettuce
A pilot feeding program to save manatees from starvation has started, but the big lunks seem to be refusing to eat the floating lettuce so far, per the Sun-Sentinel.
- State and federal wildlife officials started the unprecedented feeding after a record 1,101 manatees died last year, mostly from starvation.
- Officials agreed on leafy greens, like romaine lettuce, for their nutritional value and to help with hydration.
What happened: Pollution from fertilizer, farms, septic tanks and Lake Okeechobee discharges has killed seagrass beds in the Indian River Lagoon, where lots of manatees winter.
What they're saying: "We have not documented animals foraging on the lettuce," Ron Mezich, imperiled species management section leader for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said in a conference call. "I will say we are not present at all locations at all times to verify that."
- "We do come back at times, and not everything we provided is there, but we have not documented any animals [eating] it."
Yes, but: Wildlife officials expressed optimism that the feeding program will work as cold weather drives the marine mammals toward warmer waters, the AP reports.
- This winter has been mild, so the animals have been more dispersed.
4. The Pulp: Maybe he's ripe, maybe I'm wrong
💰 Palmetto will have more help developing its historic Main Street now that its has joined the Florida Main Street program. (Bradenton Herald)
🏡 A home in Sarasota's Rosemary District will be relocated and transformed into an African American cultural arts center and history museum. (Fox 13)
🌪 A tornado that touched down in Charlotte County on Sunday damaged about 40 homes, but no injuries or deaths were reported. (Sarasota Herald-Tribune)
Quote du jour:
Many ppl DO NOT AGREE WITH 36 EXECUTIVES that support a split concept with Montreal. I will save lots of cash as my season tickets for @RaysBaseball will be over.— Legendary sportscaster and Sarasota resident Dick Vitale on Twitter, responding to a controversial letter in the Tampa Bay Times supporting the split-city plan, per Creative Loafing.
5. Mapped: Metros rising
New jobs to check out
6. Pics du jour: Tampa's MLK celebrations
Above, spectators line the street during Tampa's Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade.
- Below, a child sits on a car to see the parade.
7. 1 big congrats to go
Florida conservationist and wildlife photographer Carlton Ward Jr. has been named a 2022 honorary member of the Garden Clubs of America, becoming just the sixth Floridian to be extended this honor in the 105 years since the Garden Club of America began awarding honorary memberships.
- In 2010, Ward founded the Florida Wildlife Corridor project to connect all of Florida’s national and state parks with tracts of open land from the Panhandle to the Keys.
- Gov. Ron DeSantis then signed the Florida Wildlife Corridor bill into law last year.
What they're saying: "An eighth-generation Floridian descended from a pioneer ranching family, Mr. Ward's photographs show how farmers and ranchers are part of the solution, protecting biodiversity and wildlife corridors," the club said in a statement.
📖 Ben is reading Maggie Jones in the New York Times Magazine on the joys and challenges of sex after 70. 🧓
🇬🇧 Selene is watching "Drag Race UK" in anticipation of "UK vs. The World." 🌎
If you won't eat the lettuce, will you at least subscribe?